The City of Greensboro recently settled a lawsuit filed in 2019 against Arco Realty for unpaid building code violation fines totaling over $680,000.
Arco is owned by Agapion family members.
The majority of the City Council agreed to settle for $200,000, and in an editorial on Sunday, Oct. 17, the News & Record opined that it wasn’t enough. The editorial was headlined, “The city talks tough…then it backs down.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 19, City Councilmember Justin Outling, who is running for mayor in 2022, sent out a campaign email that quoted the N&R headline and stated, “I certainly agree with this headline.”
And Outling quoted the editorial, “Now here we are, two years later, with a lame settlement and even lamer excuses…The city’s kid-gloves approach to Arco makes you wonder how much of that tough talk was real and how much was hot air.”
Outling, who is a partner in the Brooks Pierce law firm, stated, “I was against the settlement and voiced my opposition to Council. I believed the City should have gone to court to enforce the fines–not only to get the money that was owed to the City, but because it was the right thing to do.”
Greensboro City Attorney Chuck Watts, who was in charge of the lawsuit, doesn’t agree. Watts said, “The only people that would have benefitted from further litigation were the lawyers.”
Watts added, “It was a good settlement.”
The city did lose a box of receipts from Arco that would have allowed Arco to reduce the amount of the fines. When a company makes the repairs to fix the deficiencies for which it has been fined, it is allowed to use that cost to reduce the fine. Since the city could not produce the box of receipts from Arco, the amount the fines should have been reduced was in question.
Arco was also prepared to make the legal argument that the statute of limitations on some of the fines had expired. Since the fines reportedly went back eight to 10 years, that would have been a matter for the courts to decide.
But the larger issue seems to be that Arco had not been sued by the city for nonpayment of fines for eight to 10 years.
In 2019, at the direction of Mayor Nancy Vaughan, the policy of not taking companies that were racking up large sums in building code violation fines to court was changed and legal proceedings have begun, not only against Arco, but against other companies as well.
One attorney familiar with the case, who asked not to be identified, said, “There was no guarantee the city would have won in court. The city could have ended up with nothing.”
get used to it–a precedent has been set.
typically inferior performance by the council.
I have never understood just why these people have been allowed to even do business in Greensboro. They are SLUMLORDS and have been for as long as I can remember. It’s absolutely disgraceful that this situation has been allowed to go on as long as it has been.
Welcome to what the City does ALL the time. Matters not what the violation is the City will eventually waive it or reduce it. These violations almost always deal with issues that affect life and/or safety. But the city gladly extends the time for compliance as the violations go uncorrected. While ARCO is the biggest slum lord in Greensboro… ALL violators get a free pass as long as they just don’t pay their fine. Most fines just get written off. City ordinances and fines are a damn joke!
For good or bad, the Aggapians have been providing low cost housing for decades.
Nobody was making anyone rent from them.
Low cost housing??? Have you even taken a look at the “housing” they actually charge rent for? I may be mistaken but I believe they owned that block of apartments that all those children died in that fire at the corner of Summit and Cone. They didn’t pay those fines either. They sold it.
They did own that property but had no control over someone leaving a pot of food on the stove that started the fire or the fact that the smoke detector had been disabled. Having worked for 30 years on rental property I’ve seen what happens with smoke detectors they work when I leave but 2days later no battery in them. Arco may have problems but they are not totally to blame. And I’ll add I know no one associated with them